IPS: Indy 100: Thursday practice report

Indy 500 veteran Witherill leads freedom 100 practice. INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 15, 2003 -- Indianapolis 500 veteran Cory Witherill put his experience to good use May 15, leading the opening practice for the inaugural Freedom 100 IRL Infiniti...

Indy 500 veteran Witherill leads freedom 100 practice.

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 15, 2003 -- Indianapolis 500 veteran Cory Witherill put his experience to good use May 15, leading the opening practice for the inaugural Freedom 100 IRL Infiniti Pro Series event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Freedom 100 is set for 3 p.m. (EDT) May 17 and will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

Witherill, who raced in the 2001 Indianapolis 500, turned a top lap of 47.8741 seconds, 187.993 mph in the No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

"I wish I would have had this opportunity the first time I came here," Witherill said. "In 2001, I didn't know what to expect. Now I know what I need to do. I try not to get distracted. I have to mentally stay focused on the number-one thing we have to do here: win this race.

"We did most of our times by ourselves. There was a little bit of traffic. I was trying to stay by myself and see what we can do by myself. That is what qualifying is going to be."

Pole qualifying takes place at 12:45 p.m. (EDT) Friday on the historic 2.5-mile oval.

USAC short-track veterans Ed Carpenter and Aaron Fike were second and third, respectively, on the speed charts.

Carpenter's top lap was 47.9326, 187.764 in the No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. Fike, Witherill's teammate, turned a top lap of 48.0632, 187.253 in the No. 91 RFMS/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

"Fourteen laps for car 14," Carpenter said. "We ran a lot of laps at the test. When we tested we felt we had a good car. We went out this morning when it was still good. We just didn't feel like there was any need to put a lot of miles on the car. We didn't really feel the need to stay out and run all day. Two-and-a-half hours is a long session."

Fike, who scored his first career victory at Chicagoland Speedway in September 2002, was happy with his first practice session at IMS.

"It is an unbelievable feeling," Fike said. "I've wanted run here since I was a little kid. My dream of running here is finally coming true. It is just an amazing feeling. I believe you can't just jump in a big IndyCar (Series car). This is an opportunity a guy like me needs to get to proceed to where I really want to be -- the Indy 500. They really don't run many races here, so no matter what it is, to win at Indy is awesome."

Series points leader Mark Taylor, unbeaten in two races this season, was fourth at 48.1705, 186.836 in the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone fielded by two-time IRL IndyCara Series champion Panther Racing.

"We wanted to make sure the gears are right for qualifying, so we stayed out of the tow a lot of the time," Taylor said. "So therefore we fully haven't shown what we've got yet. But the car feels good and we will bring the car up as much as possible."

Arie Luyendyk Jr., son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, rounded out the top five with a lap of 48.2649, 186.471 in his No. 5 Grill 2 Go/Smith & Wesson Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

A total of 18 cars turned 886 incident-free laps on the 2.5-mile oval during the first day of practice for the Freedom 100.

Tickets for the inaugural Freedom 100 are $5, which is the normal Month of May practice day ticket price. The tickets can be purchased at the gate and the day will include the final IndyCar Series practice leading up to Bump Day, the final day of qualifying for the 87th Indianapolis 500. For more information, call the ticket office at (317) 492-6700.

-ims-

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Aaron Fike , A.J. Foyt , Ed Carpenter , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams Panther Racing